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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
www.vtjp.org/
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  

19 November, 2008

Insult added to injury as Israelis tear down tent of family evicted from Jerusalem home
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/20/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli security forces on Wednesday tore down a tent in which an Occupied Jerusalem Palestinian family had been living since being evicted from their nearby house earlier this month. The tent housed Fawzia al-Kurd and her ailing husband since their November 9 expulsion from their home of 52 years that had become a symbol of Palestinian resistance against the pressure of Jewish settlers seeking to gain more land in Arab East Jerusalem. Security forces also tore down two smaller tents set up by supporters. The tents were set up on an empty field just a few hundred meters from the house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Two people were detained after scuffles between police and supporters of the Kurd family. Israeli authorities said the tents were erected without permit on state land but the Kurd family say they were renting the land from its Palestinian owner.

Barak: Security forces hope Hebron settlers will leave voluntarily
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/19/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday said a group of settlers will be evacuated from a disputed building in the West Bank city of Hebron. But Barak said defense officials will sit down with the settlers first to try to persuade them to leave voluntarily. The Supreme Court has given the settlers until noon Wednesday to leave the house. They say they aren’t budging. The court says if the settlers do not leave willingly they will be evicted within 30 days. Settlers moved in last year saying they bought the property legally from a Palestinian. The Palestinian denies the claim and Israeli authorities have not recognized the sale as legal. The court ruled that the settlers must turn the house over to the state until a different court decides who the legal owner is.

UN condemns Israel for Gaza closure
Al Jazeera 11/19/2008
The United Nations has criticised Israel’s closure of the Gaza crossings as a "direct contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law". The charge by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, came as Israel moved to re-seal the crossings into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a day after allowing trucks carrying aid into the besieged coastal territory. "It must end now," Pillay said in a statement released in Geneva on Tuesday. "Only a full lifting of the blockade followed by a strong humanitarian response will be adequate to relieve the massive humanitarian suffering evident in Gaza today. "Pillay also urged Israel to allow the flow of aid including food, medicine and fuel to resume, and to restore electricity and water services in Gaza. She said that "1. 5 million Palestinian men, women and children have been forcibly deprived of their most basic human rights for months. "

Israeli army stands by while settlers attack in Burin
International Solidarity Movement 11/19/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - In the village of Burin on Tuesday November 18th, armed settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Yizhar attacked Palestinian villagers, throwing rocks and shooting in the air. At 8:40 pm, the houses of Khalib Kasam and his extended family, near Route 60, were assaulted by approximately twenty settlers. Shortly after, the mayor of Burin called the DCO (District Coordination Office) who sent the Israeli army. The army set up a checkpoint, stopping Israeli and Palestinian cars, then telling the drivers to keep going. Meanwhile, according to eyewitnesses, settlers hid in the bushes and trees 50 meters away and threw rocks at several Palestinian cars, which as a result of the checkpoint, were easy, slow-moving targets. Although the army was present during the violence, no settlers were held accountable.

PCHR Warns of Further Deterioration to Humanitarian Conditions in the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/19/2008
PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, United Nations agencies and all international humanitarian organizations, to immediately intervene and exert pressure on Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to reopen border crossings of the Gaza Strip, whose closure has caused further deterioration to living conditions of approximately 1. 5 million Palestinians, who have suffered from shortages in foods, medicines and other basic needs, including electricity and fuel supplies. According to PCHR’s field observation of humanitarian conditions, on Monday, 17 November 2008, IOF allowed the entry of 31 containers of foods and medicines into the Gaza Strip through Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, southeast of Rafah, which has been closed together with other border crossings of the Gaza Strip for two weeks.

Pentagon official says IAF ’very aggressive’ in negotiations over fighter jet purchase
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
A United States government official accussed Israel Air Force representatives of being "very aggressive" in negotiations over a planned purchase of dozens of fighter jets. In an article this week in the weekly magazine Defense News, the U. S. official said the Israelis were "very agressive in their demands, and their list of requests was extremely extensive - they need to pick through the menu of options and separate the nice-to-have from the need-to-have. "The state-of-the-art fighter jet the IAF is seeking to acquire, the F-35 is expected to cost $200 million per unit, as opposed to the $80 million that the IAF had originally estimated, leading to tension between IAF and Israel Defense Forces officials and defense officials in the United States. Details of the planned purchase were printed in the Defense News article, including. . .

Israeli military continues rampage in the Taqou’ village
International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008
Israeli military continued on Wednesday rampage throughout the West Bank village of Taqou, detaining dozens of youth after ransacking many houses. The Israeli soldiers, backed by armored vehicles imposed a curfew on the village and began ransacking many houses and local community organizations, leading scores of youth to the local secondary school for girls, witnesses said. The soldiers also took over roof tops of a number of houses, turning them to military outposts as the military jeeps sealed off all entrances leading to the village, witnesses added. Palestinian sources confirmed that the Israeli soldiers harassed a number of children in front of the houses. Among those harassed were Hussam Abu Mefreh and Ahmad Abu Mefreh, a 12 year-old.

Israeli forces hold dozens of youths in raid south of Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the village of Tuqu, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem at dawn on Wednesday and imposed a curfew. Witnesses said that dozens of military vehicles raided the village. Israeli soldiers rounded dozens of young men into a school, where they are being interrogated. Witnesses added that Israeli troops stormed houses and damaged property. In enforcing the curfew they used a public address system to order students not to go to school and residents not to attend the morning prayer. [end]

Israeli military detains four residents from Nablus City
International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008
Israeli military detained on Wednesday four Palestinian residents from the West Bank city of Nablus, as the soldiers ransacked the detainees’ houses. Witnesses said that a large Israeli contingent , made up of several armored vehicles, cordoned off the Balata refugee camp on the southern outskirts of Nablus city. The witnesses added that the Israeli military attack on Balata has been concentrated in several neighborhoods, especially at the Jamasin and old mosque. The attack resulted in the detention of Hussam Hassan, Tha’er Altirawi, Mohammad Morshed and a fourth whose identity is still unknown, Palestinian security sources revealed. The sources made clear that the Israeli soldiers broke into a number of houses , before detaining the said residents.

14 Palestinians seized by Israeli forces in West Bank raids
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized as many as 14 Palestinians during overnight raids throughout the West Bank on Wednesday. The Israeli military reported that it arrested 14 people in Bethlehem, Qalqiliya, Ramallah and Hebron and transferred them for interrogation. Eight people were taken in one such raid in Al-Fawwar Refugee Camp, south of the city of Hebron. Local sources told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided the camp at dawn and searched a number of houses. The detainees have not yet been identified. Some 20 people were arrested in the camp during a similar raid on Tueday. Meanwhile Israeli forces detained three young men and assaulted a fourth in Balata Refugee Camp on the outskirts of the city of Nablus. Local sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the camp at dawn and stormed a number of houses.

PFLP fighters say three projectiles fired from Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian fighters say they fired three homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Kfar Aza from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon. The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades claimed the attack in a statement. The group said that “resistance remains the preferable choice of the Palestinian people against Israeli assaults. ”Israeli media reported that three projectiles landed in a different area, near the town of Zikim, north of the Gaza Strip, causing no injuries or damage. Kfar Aza is east of Gaza. [end]

Israeli Incursion into South Gaza
BBC News, MIFTAH 11/19/2008
The Israeli military has launched an incursion into the Gaza Strip and clashed with Palestinian gunmen there. Witnesses say the Israeli troops were accompanied by bulldozers which have been destroying agricultural land east of the town of Rafah, in southern Gaza. There was no immediate reports of any injuries or deaths. Meanwhile, Israeli defence officials say they have re-imposed a total closure of the border crossings into the Gaza Strip. A convoy of 33 trucks of humanitarian aid was allowed in on Monday, but United Nations officials say the supplies will run out within days. Israel says it has tightened its blockade of Gaza in response to recent rocket attacks by Palestinian militants, which have caused minor damage but no casualties. Gaza mapA coalition of aid agencies which had been due to hold a meeting in Gaza held the event in the car park at Erez, the main crossing for people into Gaza, instead, in protest after they were denied entry to the Strip.

PA to advertise Arab peace plan
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
In an unprecedented move, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has taken the cause of peace directly to the Israeli public by taking out an advertisement, to be published Thursday in four Israeli dailies, promoting the 2002 Arab League’s Peace Initiative. "Fifty-seven Arab and Muslim countries will forge diplomatic ties and normal relations with Israel in exchange for a full peace agreement and an end to the occupation," reads the ad, which Arab sources said would appear inHaaretz, Yediot Aharonot, Ma’ariv and Yisrael Hayom. It reprints the text of the Arab initiative and is framed by flags of Arab and Muslim countries. The League’s initiative calls for a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, including from the Golan and parts of Jerusalem. It also references United Nations resolutions that allow for a return of Palestinian refugees into Israel.

Obama to Abbas: I’ll support peace talks
Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
US president-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday spoke on the phone with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and pledged that his administration would back the peace process with Israel, a senior Palestinian negotiator said. In a statement sent to reporters, Saeb Erekat said that during the conversation Obama expressed support for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. "Obama promised that he’ll continue efforts to push the peace process forward in order to arrive at a two state solution," Erekat said. "He said he will work with both the Palestinians and the Israelis to achieve peace, which is in the interest of both parties. " Erekat said that Obama’s remarks showed his determination to help reach a permanent status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. RELATEDPM congratulates Obama. . .

Hamas slams PA marketing of the ''Arab initiative'' minus ''the right of return''
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced the PA in Ramallah for intending to publish advertisements in Hebrew language in Israeli newspapers in order to market the Arab peace initiative without mentioning the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum considered these advertisements a waiver of the Palestinian right of return and a reflection of the bankruptcy of the PA leadership which is trying to get anything through negotiations with the Israeli occupation in exchange for alleged peace. "This is cheap marketing by the PA with regard to the rights of our people which we believe are extracted and not auctioned in this way," Barhoum underlined. The spokesman stressed that the only way to recover the usurped Palestinian rights is not through begging but through the resistance.

Israel to boycott ’Durban II’ anti-racism conference
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced Wednesday that Israel has made a final decision to boycott the United Nations "Durban II" conference on human rights this spring, fearing it would be used once again as a forum for anti-Israeli sentiment. The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in Geneva in April, is a follow-up to a 2001 summit in Durban, South Africa on the same issues. "The documents prepared for the conference indicate that it is turning once again into an anti-Israeli tribunal, singling out and delegitimizing the State of Israel," Livni told Jewish-American leaders at the UJC General Assembly in Jerusalem. "The conference has nothing to do with fighting racism," she said.

Livni tells GA: Israel’s raison d’etre is its Jewish identity
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 11/19/2008
Foreign Minister and Kadima Party Chief Tzipi Livni on Wednesday said Hamas must accept Israel’s right to exist, and that Israel must remain a Jewish and democratic state. "The world is willing to defend the right of the state of Israel to exist, this is the part of the requirement that the [Mideast] Quartet demands [of] Hamas. But I would like to add two more words to this demand of the quartet: They need to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state," Livni told delegates at the closing ceremony of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly on Wednesday. Livni told the crowd of Jews from around the world that Israel’s survival was dependent first and foremost on Israel remaining a Jewish state, saying "a Jewish state is a matter of values, it’s is not a matter of religion, it is more a matter of nationality. "

Livni: Israel won’t attend Durban II
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
Israel began an active campaign on Wednesday against the anti-Israel hatred and incitement it says is already evident in the preparatory texts for the so-called Durban II United Nations conference that opens in Geneva on April 20. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says a Jewish state is not a monopoly of rabbis "We call upon the international community not to participate in the conference, which seeks to legitimize hatred and racism," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the thousands of North American leaders in Jerusalem for the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities. In February, Livni said Israel did not plan to attend the Geneva follow-up conference to the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance that met in Durban, South Africa. Israel and the US walked out of that conference to protest its disintegration into an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate-fest.

Israel to boycott UN anti-racism conference
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced on Wednesday that Israel would not be participating in the upcoming United Nations (UN) Durban II conference on racism. Livni said the Israeli Foreign Ministry “will not legitimize” the conference, which she says has become “a forum for pernicious accusations and incitement against Israel. ”The conference is a follow-up to the September 2001 Durban “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. ”According to Livni, the 2001 conference “became a forum” for “attacks against Zionism, labeling it as a form of racism, denial of the unique and special nature of the Holocaust and a distortion of the meaning of the term ‘anti-Semitism. ’”Livni made the announcement in front of the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities of North America on Wednesday,. . .

Israel launches Arabic YouTube channel to bypass Arab media
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
The Foreign Ministry has launched a YouTube channel in Arabic which is meant to bypass Arab media and give Israel’s version of current events directly to Arab viewers, Haaretz has learned. The ministry’s Arab media department chief Ofir Gendelman told Haaretz on Wednesday that they seek to reduce Israel’s dependency on Arab media channels, who tend to give Israeli spokespersons relatively limited airtime. He also said that the amount of coverage depends on Israel’s fluctuating relationship with Arab channels. Thus, for example, Israeli spokespersons have recently shunned Al Jazeera over its allegedly unbalanced coverage of Middle East affairs. " We have a problem reaching out to the Arab audience, and we need to take additional measures to maximize our exposure," Gendelman said. "The internet scene in Arabic is buzzing, and we wish to establish another communication channel for dialogue.

Prospects of Palestinian reconciliation ’darker than ever’
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 11/20/2008
CAIRO: Palestinian resistance factions were roundly blamed in the mainstream media for their last-minute decision to boycott last week’s Egypt-sponsored "comprehensive dialogue" summit, ostensibly aimed at Palestinian national reconciliation. But some independent commentators say the move, led by Gaza- based resistance faction Hamas, was justified. "It’s unreasonable to expect Hamas to hold ’dialogue’ when the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) is persecuting its members in the [Israeli-occupied] West Bank," said Magdi Hussein, secretary general of Egypt’s Islamist-leaning Labor Party, officially suspended since 2000. The event scheduled for November 9 was planned after intensive talks between Egyptian officials and a dozen Palestinian factions, including both Hamas and the US-backed Fatah movement of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas convenes PLC in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) convened in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and Wednesday, ratifying a number of proposed laws. Other proposals were submitted to the PLC’s Legal Committee for study before ratification. On Tuesday, the PLC in Gaza ratified a report submitted by the Jerusalem Committee about Israeli violations in Jerusalem and regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in general. The report was discussed and amended before it was ratified as an official document within the PLC. At the beginning of the session, acting PLC Speaker Ahmad Bahar delivered a speech asserting that Israel had “deliberately violated” the five-month ceasefire “both militarily and through closure of crossing points. ”He claimed that the PA security arrests men and women, including wives of “martyrs,” and that it closes charities, as well.

Hamas denies proposal to extend Abbas’ term in return for hand in presidency
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas denied on Wednesday reports that it would approve an extension of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ term in exchange for a role in the Presidency. Reports had surfaced, quoting Arab diplomats, that Hamas would back away from its demand that Abbas step down in January if the movement was given a hand in executive power. Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told Ma’an: “This is a legal issue and needs to be discussed within law and by the [Palestinian Legislative Council]. ”Barhoum also said that “communications are still going on with Arab countries” with respect to attempts to reconcile Hamas with its rival, Fatah. He said that the Fatah-dominated government in the West Bank would have to take steps, including releasing Hamas members from prison and allowing Hamas leaders to leave for Cairo, before talks could resume.

Arab League ''frustrated and angry'' at collapse of Palestinian unity talks
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Cairo – Ma’an – The Arab League leadership was “frustrated and angry” at the collapse of Palestinian reconciliation talks the League helped to organize earlier this month, a senior official told Ma’an on Tuesday. Mohammed Sbeih, the Assistant to the Secretary General on Palestine Affairs at the Arab League, said that restoring Palestinian political unity is a higher priority for the organization even than ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. The remark was the most pointed expression to date of the frustration felt by the meeting’s sponsors. The talks between Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah, which were scheduled to begin on 9 November, were cancelled when Hamas withdrew the day before, protesting a campaign of a arrests against Hamas members in the West Bank.

Gaza: Responding to urgent medical needs of choked-off Strip
International Committee of the Red Cross - ICRC, ReliefWeb 11/19/2008
As a result of the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip since 5 November, medical facilities are once more running out of essential supplies. This has dire consequences for the health of the Palestinian population. Katharina Ritz, the ICRC’s head of mission for the occupied Palestinian territories, talks about the humanitarian situation and the organization’s efforts to respond to the most urgent needs. How is the population of Gaza affected by the closure of the Strip? The situation for civilians in Gaza is dire. One of our main concerns is the serious impact the closure is having on the population’s health. Hospitals are running out of even the most basic items and medicines are lacking. There is a lack of pain killers for severe pain, specialized antibiotics and anaesthetics. Mothers and fathers in Gaza told our staff that they are worried about what could happen if they have to take their children to hospital.

Health ministry: Dozens of patients may die in case of a power outage
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The health ministry in the Gaza Strip warned that dozens of Palestinian patients might die within half an hour if there is any power outage in the units of intensive care, heart and preterm infants in Gaza hospitals. Dr. Hasan Khalaf, the assistant deputy minister of health, pointed out that the breakdown of the main electricity generator in the compound of Al-Shifa hospital has become a threat to the lives of patients there. Dr. Khalaf said that many medical devices need spare parts in order to reoperate them where the IOA refuses to allow in spare parts needed for the maintenance of these devices and the Red Cross failed too to bring them to the Strip. The health official underlined that about 140 patients in the intensive care units, cardiac care centers and rooms of newborn babies in Al-Shifa hospital may die within half an hour if the power was cut off from the hospital.

Israel reinstitutes Gaza blockade after brief respite, UN reports
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 11/19/2008
Israel reinstituted its blockade of the Gaza Strip today after a brief respite to let humanitarian aid pass through on Tuesday, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said today, describing the situation as "desperate" and "unacceptable. " No fuel, humanitarian supplies or commercial commodities were allowed into Gaza today, according to the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO). Mr. Holmes – who is also Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs – told journalists in Geneva that the closure was seen as collective punishment. Half the population of Gaza was under 15 and were being held hostage by the situation. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday to urge him to facilitate the freer movement of urgently needed humanitarian supplies and of UN personnel into Gaza.

Many sections of Shifa hospital closed because of fuel depletion
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Several wards and medical equipment in the compound of Shifa hospital, one of the biggest medical institutions in the Gaza Strip, have stopped operating as a result of power outages and the depletion of fuel. Dr. Hussein Ashour, the director of Al-Shifa hospital, told Tuesday Al-Quds satellite channel that the oxygen supply system which feeds the units of heart and internal diseases in the compound in addition to physiotherapy stopped working. Dr. Ashour pointed out that the main generator in the compound broke down because of the lack of spare parts necessary to maintain it. He appealed to the humanitarian organizations to urgently intervene to save Gaza patients. In a statement issued following its weekly meeting and a copy of which was received by the PIC, the Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya held on Tuesday the IOA and PA parties in Ramallah. . .

Haneyya discusses Gaza pilgrims crisis with Saudi crown prince
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government in Gaza, has reached Saudi crown prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz over the telephone Tuesday evening to discuss the issue of Gaza pilgrims. Sources in Haneyya office told PIC correspondent that the premier discussed with the crown prince Palestinian developments in general with a special focus on the issue of the Gaza pilgrims who have not been issued pilgrimage visas by the Saudi authorities so far. Dr. Taleb Abu Sha’ar, the Awkaf minister in Gaza, held the unconstitutional government in Ramallah responsible for foiling the pilgrimage this year for the Gaza pilgrims, and called on that government to spare the pilgrimage the political wrangling before it is too late. The minister appealed to the Saudi monarch and his crown prince in a press conference Tuesday evening to accelerate the issuance of visas to the pilgrims who have been chosen in Gaza.

Israel rebuffs call by UN Chief Ban to open Gaza crossings
Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday rebuffed a call by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through crossings Israel has largely sealed in two weeks of violence. Asked by Army Radio about Ban’s appeal and whether Israel intends to reopen the passages, Barak said: "No. There needs to be calm in order for the crossings to be opened. " Ban Ki-moon told outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday he was deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and urged Israel to allow UN aid workers into the Strip. "The secretary-general today telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to express his deep concern over the consequences of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza," the UN press office said in a statement.

European campaign warns of Israeli attempts to dupe the world on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege on Gaza has warned of an Israeli attempt to draw the world’s attention away from the oppressive siege imposed on the Strip. The campaign said in a press release in Brussels on Wednesday that the Israeli authority’s partial opening of only one of the crossings for the entry of limited food supplies aimed at duping the world into forgetting about the imminent disaster in the Strip as a result of the blockage of fuel and food, medical and humanitarian assistance from entering the Strip for 15 consecutive days. It said that the allowed quantity does not meet the minimum requirements of the Strip’s inhabitants. The campaign also lashed out at Egypt for opening the Rafah border crossing for limited periods every now and then "just to ward off a popular outrage".

Hamas’ armed wing will ’blow up the truce’ if Israel kills leaders
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The armed wing of Hamas threatened on Wednesday to “blow up” the truce agreement with Israel if it kills Hamas leaders has threatened by certain Israeli leaders. Abu Ubaidah the spokesperson of Al-Qassam Brigades said: “Israeli threats and calls to carry out wide-scale aggressive operations in Gaza Strip are nothing but an attempt to console themselves after the projectile attacks they received from resistance factions especially Al-Qassam. ”The five-month-old Egyptian-brokered truce has been eroded by two weeks of cross-border violence that began with a deadly Israeli invasion of Gaza on 4 November. 16 Palestinians and no Israelis have been killed. “Projectiles launched by Al-Qassam inform a message for Israel that they are ready to blow up that truce and will never regret it,” he added.

Israeli defense minister keeps up closure of Gaza’s crossings
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008
Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, decided Wednesday to keep up Gaza’s commercial crossings closed for the sixteenth day consecutively, under the pretext of continued homemade shells fire into nearby Israeli towns. The Israeli minister was quoted as saying " the crossings will remain closed unless the Palestinian homemade rocket attacks stop". During a cabinet meeting with his top security advisors, Barak took the decision closure. Yesterday night, a number of Gaza-based factions took responsibility for firing the nearby Israeli towns of Sderot and southern Israel, a series of homemade shells, saying such a fire is a natural response to the continued Israel crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

Another Palestinian family expelled from their home in East Jerusalem
Press release from Luisa Morgantini, Vice-President of the European Parliament, International Solidarity Movement 11/19/2008
Hundreds of houses demolished. Israel’s colonial policies kill any chance for a peace process! Brussels, 12th November 2008- Israeli police recently expelled the Al-Kurd family from its house,in the dark of night, in the Sheikh Jarrah area in East Jerusalem. The family includes Umm Kamal, the mother, her husband - who is partially paralysed and suffering from chronic heart disease - and their 5 children. Already refugees in 1948, when they were displaced from West Jerusalem, the family has once again been dispossessed of its home, where it has been living since 1956. A group of extremist settlers claim ownership to that house and 26 other houses in the same neighbourhood, on the basis of an Ottoman title deed dating from 1880,the authenticity of which is doubtful and which is also disputed by United States. One week ago, a European Parliament delegation to the Palestinian Occupied Territories, composed of deputies from different political groups and. . .

Five seized at East Jerusalem house demolition protest
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian and four internationals were taken into Israeli police custody at a protest in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, according to a statement. The five were demonstrating against the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood, where the house was demolished by Israeli forces on 9 November. The home, which belonged to the Al-Kurd family, was built on private Palestinian property, the statement claimed. Later on Wednesday afternoon, all five protestors were released without charges. Aside from the one Palestinian seized by Israeli police forces, two of the jailed protestors are from Denmark, one is British and another is from Sweden. All five were temporarily jailed in the Israeli “Russian Compound” prison in Jerusalem. The family’s house was slated for demolition in order to pave the way for a 26-story. . .

Israeli authorities demolish Sheikh Jarrah protest tent
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli forces demolished on Wednesday the protest tent of Al-Kurd family in Sheikh Jarrah who were forced out of their home at gunpoint by an extremist Jewish group. Jerusalem municipality workers began emptying the tent of Fawziyya Al-Kurd, the wife of the disabled owner of the evacuated house, on Wednesday. Witnesses said that Israeli military and police forces stormed the area and imposed a curfew before beginning to empty and demolish the tent, and under the pretext that it was illegally erected. Soldiers and police officers threatened to use force against Palestinian Jerusalemites in the event that they entered the area and tried to protest. When the tent was erected earlier this week, Israeli authorities ordered a 450 NIS-fine to be paid each day by the evacuated family. Israeli authorities were reportedly concerned that so many delegations and. . .

IOA demolishes sit-in tent pitched by owners of usurped home
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Large numbers of Israeli occupation policemen on Wednesday tore down the tent pitched by an old Palestinian couple who were evicted from their home by force in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses told PIC over the phone that municipality trucks knocked down the tent under heavy security measures after declaring the entire area a closed military zone and blocked access before individuals. Tens of nearby inhabitants gathered along with lawyers of the Mizan center for human rights and Sheikh Ali Abu Sheikha a legal counselor. The policemen detained Sheikh Ali and five other neighbors. Mizan sources said that the occupation municipality claimed that it obtained a court order to flatten the tent but the legal papers were not handed to the lawyers. The Palestinian couple of Al-Kurd family were forcibly ejected from their home. . .

Israeli court holds hearing on the file of Maghareba gate events
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli court in Jerusalem held Tuesday a hearing on the file of the Maghareba gate events and the indictment leveled against Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands, and four of his colleagues. The Israeli prosecution charged the head and members of the Islamic Movement with assaulting Israeli policemen during the Maghareba gate events, when the IOA demolished two rooms in the Aqsa Mosque and the path leading to the gate in February 2007. During the hearing, the court listened to testimonies of two prosecution witnesses, namely, Israeli policeman Salim Mar’aee, who investigated Sheikh Salah, and Israeli journalist Yoram Ben Nur who showed his reservation about calling him to testify against the Sheikh especially since the Israeli police promised him earlier that it would not summon him for testimony.

Protest tent in Sheikh Jarrah demolished by Israeli forces - one Palestinian and four internationals taken into police custody
International Solidarity Movement 11/19/2008
Jerusalem Region - 11:45am, Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem:One Palestinian and four internationals were today taken into Israeli police custody from a protest tent of a Palestinian family evicted from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. The protest tent, that was established following the eviction of the Al-Kurd family on the 9th November 2008 has been demolished by Israeli forces despite being situated on Palestinian private property. As of 1:45pm, the family has decided to re-establish the protest tent and are in the process of re-construction. At 2pm the internationals were released without charge. However the Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrah is still being held. The Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrahand the international solidarity activists, two from Denmark, one from Britain and one from Sweden, were taken to the Russian compound.

The National: Family’s eviction draws global outrage
Jonathan Cook, The National, International Solidarity Movement 11/19/2008
The middle-of-the-night eviction last week of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home in East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers is a demonstration of Israeli intent towards a future peace deal with the Palestinians. Mohammed and Fawziya Khurd are now on the street, living in a tent, after Israeli police enforced a court order issued in July to expel them. The couple have been living in the same property in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood since the mid-1950s, when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. The United Nations allotted them the land after they were expelled from their homes in territory that was seized by Israel during the 1948 war. Since East Jerusalem’s occupation by Israel in 1967, however, Jewish settler groups have been waging a relentless. . .

Fifteen Palestinian fishermen released
International Solidarity Movement 11/18/2008
Gaza Region - 19th November Update: The fifteen Palestinian fishermen who were abducted from Palestinian waters by the Israeli navy on the 18th November have been released. Their boats, however, have yet to be returned. The three internationals who were also taken by the Israeli navy are still being held in Ben Gurion detention facility. All three face deportation despite entering Gaza from international waters and not leaving Palestinian waters with the fishermen. At no point, before they were transported by the Israeli navy into Israel, did the internationals enter internationally recognised Israeli waters. The lawyer representing the international human rights observers has been told that she can have access to them on Wednesday morning.

15 Gazan fishermen released; three internationals still in custody
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Fifteen Palestinian fishermen who were seized by Israeli naval forces off the coast of Gaza were released on Wednesday. The fishermen were arrested along with three international volunteers in Palestinian territorial waters on Tuesday. The three foreign nationals, and the boats, have yet to be released. According to the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, the foreigners, Andrew Muncie from Scotland, Darlene Wallach from the United States and Vittorio Arrigoni from Italy, are still being held at in Ben Gurion detention facility and are facing deportation. Two British politicians condemned the arrests on Tuesday night. "I have contacted Foreign Minster Mark Malloch Brown and asked him to take action to challenge these arrests and demand the release particularly of the UK citizen,” said MP Clare Short.

Free Gaza Movement call for aiding Gaza through the sea
IEMMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008
The Free Gaza Movement issued on Wednesday this open letter to all organizations delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Israel’s closure of its land borders with Gaza, and Egypt’s submission to Israeli pressure to close the Rafah border is a humanitarian disaster for 1. 5 million Palestinians. The United Nations announced last Thursday that inside Gaza it had run out of the food essentials to supply 750,000 desperately needy citizens. "This has become a blockade against the United Nations itself," a spokesman said. Therefore, the sea route to Gaza must be considered as a viable option to deliver essential supplies. Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has delivered aid and personnel to Gaza three times without Israeli or Egyptian intervention. Our boat, the Dignity, sailed directly from international waters to the waters of Gaza.

Who stole Palestinian prisoners’ money?
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/19/2008
Palestinian Ministry for Prisoner Affairs allots millions of shekels every year for residents held in Israeli prisons. Ynet learns PA has launched investigation into disappearance of inmates’ canteen allowance; senior official arrested - Government corruption - the Palestinian version:The Palestinian Authority has appointed a commission of inquiry into two serious corruption affairs in the Ministry for Prisoner Affairs. A senior ministry official was arrested recently on suspicion of stealing hundreds of thousands of shekels allotted to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The inmates, most of whom are jailed in Nafha Prison in the Negev, were meant to use the money to purchase products at the jail’s canteen. Desperate TimesBarak plays hardball with Hamas, wants to limit prisoner visitations / Hanan Greenberg Defense minister proposes. . .

Two Palestinian lawmakers sentenced to prison terms
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Hebron –Ma’an – Two Palestinian members of parliament were sentenced to lengthy prison terms and fined by an Israeli military court on Tuesday. Lawmaker Samir Al-Qadi was sentenced to 42 months in prison and a 7,500 shekel fine. Al-Qadi was originally sentenced to just 28 months. Bassem Az-Za’arir was sentenced to 26 months in prison and 9 months probation. Both men are members of Hamas’ Change and Reform Bloc, and are from the West Bank city of Hebron. It is noted that Az-Za’arir and Abd Ar-Razeq were released on bail three months ago. Other lawmakers from Hebron will be sentenced on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of November. Over 40 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council are in prison. Israel rounded up dozens of deputies, including members of Hamas and Fatah, in response to the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian fighters in 2006.

Soldier who shot bound Palestinian talks
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 11/19/2008
Minutes after being discharged from army IDF soldier documented firing rubber bullet at bound, blindfolded Palestinian in Naalin in July tells Ynet of misunderstanding, betrayal that led to the most difficult months of his life - "I didn’t believe my service would end this way," Staff Sergeant L. , the soldier who was documented firing a rubber bullet at a bound Palestinian in Naalin in July, said in an interview with Ynet moments after taking off his uniform for the last time. "I joined the army with a lot of motivation, I enjoyed every second of it, I was always proud of what I was doing. Now I am leaving with an uneasy feeling, and disappointment, and anger," the soldier said, speaking for the first time since the incident. "I’ve been through the hardest time of my life with the most extreme thoughts going through my head. "

Israel to discuss Ghajar pullout with UN - report
Daily Star 11/20/2008
BEIRUT: Israel will begin talks with the United Nations about a potential withdrawal from the northern section of the village of Ghajar, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Wednesday. According to the report, the decision came after a high level security meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The northern half of Ghajar is in Lebanon and the southern half is in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israel has reoccupied the northern section of the village since the 2006 summer war. The daily said that Israel was looking for a withdrawal strategy that would prevent Hizbullah from claiming it as a victory. It added that Israel is looking for a clear working definition of possible coordination between the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and the Israeli army, and that a three way agreement between Israel, Lebanon and the UN was a possibility.

Israel to mull ceding part of Ghajar
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
Israel will consider letting UNIFIL control the northern part of the village of Ghajar, a village cut in half by the Israeli-Lebanese border. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened a limited discussion on the request, made by UNIFIL, and decided that Israel will discuss the idea with the UN. The IDF reportedly supports ceding part of Ghajar but the Foreign Ministry opposes the move, Army Radio reported. The IDF wishes to avoid clashing with UNIFIL while it sees the northern part of Ghajar as having low strategic value. Foreign Ministry officials called on UNIFIL to "prevent Hizbullah from rearming before they make demands of Israel. " The dispute over Ghajar began immediately after Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Lebanon and Hizbullah demanded that Israel withdraw from the northern half of the village, built on Lebanese soil.

Israel to hold talks with UN over IDF pullout from northern border town
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 11/19/2008
Israel will commence negotiations with the United Nations over a withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from the northern section of the village of Ghajar, which sits along the border with Lebanon, the government decided on Wednesday. The move comes after consultations held in Jerusalem on Wednesday between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and senior officials from the defense establishment. Officials in Jerusalem say the goal of the negotiations is to ensure that any agreement take Israel’s security concerns into account. The officials said any deal must include working guidelines that would define the IDF’s cooperation with UNIFIL, without which Israel will not pull its forces out of northern Ghajar.

Carter plans talks with all major factions in Lebanon
Daily Star 11/20/2008
BEIRUT: Former US President, Nobel Laureate and renowned peace activist Jimmy Carter, will be visiting Beirut next month to meet with Lebanese leaders, the Central News Agency (CNA) has reported. According to the CNA report, Carter is to arrive in Beirut on December 9 for a three-day visit, and is expected to meet with President Michel Sleiman, Premier Fouad Siniora and Speaker Nabih Berri. The report, released Tuesday night, also noted that Carter plans to meet with Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud to discuss the possibility of sending international election observers to Lebanon for the 2009 spring parliamentary polls. Carter, a one-term president from 1977-1981, presided over the historic peace accords signed between Israel and Egypt at Camp David in 1979 and has devoted much of his post-presidency career to philanthropic and activist work across the globe.

Rice promises Jumblatt more US support for Lebanon
Daily Star 11/20/2008
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that her country would maintain what she called described as its support for a sovereign, free and democratic Lebanon. Following a meeting with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt in Washington, Rice also said that the US administration was looking forward to Lebanon’s 2009 parliamentary elections. Jumblatt, for his part, said the US has always supported Lebanon through its backing for Security Council Resolution 1701 and the international tribunal to try those accused in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Jumblatt added that the time was right for the liberation of the Shebaa Farms since Lebanon had agreed with Syria on the establishment of diplomatic ties. He added that it was very important that US President-elect Barack Obama understand that the Lebanese people are seeking freedom and sovereignty.

Settlers stand by refusal to get out of Hebron home
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/20/2008
HEBRON, Occupied West Bank: About 100 Jewish colonists on Wednesday defied a High Court order to evacuate a house in the flashpoint Occupied West Bank city of Hebron, and braced for possible confrontation with police. "I fear excesses as we don’t control all those who support our cause," said Malakhie Levinger, mayor of the nearby Kyriat Arba settlement. Settlers have distributed cycling helmets to teenagers in readiness for any confrontation. "We won’t use violence but we will not allow anyone to hit our children with impunity," said Uri Ariel, an MP of the National Union party. The settlers rallied support from religious and right-wing politicians and from fellow hard-line settlers across the Israeli-occupied West Bank to resist Sunday’s order. The court ruling set a Wednesday deadline for the settlers to move out.

Hebron building left alone - for now
Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
Fearing extreme violence, the IDF does not plan to evacuate the disputed four-story building in Hebron this week, senior defense officials said on Wednesday. Initially it was expected that the IDF would move immediately to forcibly remove the nine families who live there once the court-ordered deadline for their voluntary exit expired Wednesday morning. According to defense officials, the decision to postpone the evacuation was made due to festivities planned for the weekend in the Jewish section of the city and concern that right-wing activists would barricade themselves in the building, known as Beit Hashalom. It is located on Worshipers’ Way, the road that leads between the Kiryat Arba settlement and the Cave of the Patriarchs. This weekend, in honor of the reading of the Torah portion that describes Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs, thousands of worshipers are expected to spend Shabbat in the city.

Hebron settlers headed for showdown with Israeli troops over house
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli settlers are bracing for a showdown on Wednesday as the Israeli military prepares to carry out a court order to evacuate a settler-occupied house in the West Bank city of Hebron. Settlers moved into the four-story building in early 2007, claiming they purchased the property from a Palestinian who denies the sale ever took place. Israeli authorities have not recognized the sale as legal. Israel’s highest court gave the settlers until noon on Wednesday to leave the house, at which time police and military forces would be authorized to remove them by force Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he would execute the order, but only after attempting to persuade the settlers to leave peacefully. A few hundred Israeli settlers, protected by thousands of soldiers, live in the heart of the of Hebron, a Palestinian city of 250,000 inhabitants.

Palestine Today 111908
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 00s || 2. 74 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Wednesday November 19 2008 The Israeli military kept up on Wednesday closure of the Gaza border crossings for more than two weeks now as the Israeli military carried out a series of attacks on the West Bank. These news and more are coming up stay tuned. Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, decided during a meeting with his senior security officials, to keep up closure of Gaza’s crossings for the sixteenth day consecutively. The Israeli decision comes despite repeated warnings by international humanitarian bodies that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is on the brink of collapse. In the West Bank, the Israeli military invaded the Taqou’ village , imposing a strict curfew and detaining several residents in the area.

Cobras return to action after crash
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 11/20/2008
Investigation into deadly crash responsible for grounding Cobra helicopters for over a month concludes incident was caused by unprecedented technological malfunction; IAF orders all choppers to undergo preemptive maintenance -The IAF’s Cobra helicopters are set to reclaim their place in the sky after an investigation left them grounded for over a month. The Cobra crash responsible for the grounding, which took place in early September near Kibbutz Ginegar in the north, was found to have been caused by a rare incident of rotor detachment. Two reservist pilots were killed in the crash: Major Shai Danor, 35, from Rosh HaAyin, and Major Yuval Holtzman, 40, of Matan. Immediately after the crash IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nehoshtan ordered all of the helicopters grounded, and appointed an investigating committee to inquire into the matter.

Palestinian ''terror'' group gloats over Zikim closure
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/19/2008
’The Israelis make threats, but after each threat they withdraw and evacuate,’ PRC spokesman says after IDF recruits vacated from base near Gaza. Adds: Palestinians’ faith and determination will bring more victories -"The evacuation of Zikim serves as further proof that the IDF is going from defeat to defeat," a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) told Ynet after the military base, a basic training facility located in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip, marked the end of its instructional activities on Wednesday. "It began with the withdrawal from Lebanon (May 2000), the pullout from Gaza (August 2005), the defeat in theSecond Lebanon War (summer 2006) and, of course, the daily beating from the Palestinian resistance," Abu Abir said. "Zikim won’t be the last place from which Israelis will be evacuated.

VIDEO - 2 Qassams land near Ashkelon
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 11/19/2008
(Video) Few hours after Zikim army base holds closing ceremony, two rockets fired from Gaza Strip land in area; no injuries or damage caused - VIDEO -Two Qassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday landed in the Zikim area, south of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported. The rockets were fired a few hours after the IDF’s Zikim military base, a basic training facility located in the vicinity, held a festive ceremony marking the end of its instructional activities in the area. On Tuesday afternoon, three Qassam rockets went off in open fields in the western Negev, with no damage or injuries reported. Two mortar shells were also fired at the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council on Tuesday, with no injuries or damage caused. Video courtesy ofInfolive.

Zahhar: Truce isn’t given for gratis, and those who need it should abide by it
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The prominent political leader in Hamas Movement Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said onTuesday that the calm with the Israeli occupation couldn’t be given for gratis, adding that those who ask for it should pay its obligations. Zahhar’s remarks were made as he addressed a rally organized by Hamas in Gaza against the rampant political arrests at the hands of security forces of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas cadres in the West Bank. "We would like to make it clear for all concerned parties that whoever asks for calm he should abide by it and must pay its obligations because calm couldn’t be given for free" stressed Zahhar, underlining that the Palestinian resistance factions have adhered to the current calm terms. In this regard, Zahhar explained that the Israeli occupation should stop all forms of aggressions against the Palestinian people, and should open all the. . .

PA to Publish Ads in Israeli Media
Ali Waked, MIFTAH 11/19/2008
The Palestinian Authority will try to influence public opinion in Israel ahead of the general elections in February by publishing advertisements in Israeli newspapers. The ads, which outline the Saudi peace plan, will appear in the papers as of this Thursday. This is the first time that the PA is using this channel to communicate with the Israeli public. A source said that similar ads will be published in American and European newspapers as well. The Saudi peace plan, which was adopted by the Arab League Summit in 2003, calls for a comprehensive peace agreement and the establishment of full diplomatic ties between Israel and the Arab world, in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders. ’Best mechanism for resolving conflict’The decision to run the ads was made following long deliberations between senior Palestinian leaders and Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al. ) Tibi, who is considered in the PA an expert on Israeli media, was chosen to promote the project vis-a-vis the press.

Crossing the Line looks at Obama’s ''change'' for Palestine
Podcast, Crossing the Line, Electronic Intifada 11/19/2008
This week on Crossing The Line: With a resounding victory, United States President-elect Barrack Hussein Obama made history on the evening of 4 November 2008. Running on the slogan "Change You Can Believe In," many are hoping that after eight years of the Bush administration, change has finally arrived. But what about change for the Palestinians and their untenable situation? What change can Obama bring to the world’s longest-standing refugee population? We’ll speak to Kathleen and Bill Christison both formerly with the US Central Intelligence Agency about this issue. Also this week, almost immediately after securing the presidency, Barack Obama picked Rahm Emanuel, a staunch supporter of Israel, as his White House Chief of Staff. How will this appointment affect the promise of "change" that Obama campaigned on, and in particular, how will it affect the Palestinians? The Electronic Intifada co-founder and author Ali Abunimah will join us to talk about the president-elect’s first appointment to his staff.

Jewish Republican Eric Cantor elected party whip
Hilary Leila Krieger, Jpost Correspondent In Washington, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
WASHINGTON - Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor won his race to become the new minority whip Wednesday, becoming the second-ranking Republican in the US House of Representatives. While the House Republican leadership has been set, the party’s own transition has just begun. Wednesday’s moves shift the House delegation further to the right, with the elevation of conservatives such as Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives. The Republican Party as a whole is now debating whether it needs to consolidate its conservative base or reach out to moderates, and the outcome could determine if Jews other than Cantor feel comfortable in the Grand Old Party. In the face of staggering losses in the executive and legislative branches on Election Day, Republicans have already begun the external finger-pointing and internal reflection over what went wrong and how to fix it for next time.

Jewish Republican representative elected to top deputy spot in Congress
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 11/19/2008
Eric Cantor, A Jewish congressman from Virginia who was once thought to be a possible vice presidential pick for Arizona Senator John McCain’s campaign , was elected on Wednesday as a House minority whip. Minority whip is the second highest position in the minority party. Cantor has served as the chief deputy whip since 2002. "As a rising star in the Republican party and an outstanding legislator, Rep. Cantor is a source of tremendous pride for the Jewish community," Republican Jewish Coalition official Matt Brooks said. "While the many challenges facing this country, and our party, are daunting, with Rep. Cantor taking on new leadership responsibilities as House minority whip, this is an occasion to be hopeful and to look towards the future. "Related articles:Rabbi laments American Jews’ preoccupation with liberalism. . .

PA to publish Arab Peace Initiative adverts in Israeli newspapers
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority (PA) will publish newspaper announcements about the Arab Peace Initiative in Israeli media, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) announced on Wednesday. The PA adverts are aimed “to convince the Israeli public of the initiative,” according to Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PLO Executive Committee secretary. In an interview with Ma’an, Rabbo explained that the Israeli public “does not understand the initiative, as they only hear about it from Israeli officials who have distorted and criticized it. ”“This is what they do with all other Arab and Palestinian plans, along with any peace project,” he added. “We will try to explain the core of the initiative to (the Israeli) people in an objective manner, in an attempt to normalize relations with the Arab world,” Rabbo said.

PA negotiator: Obama told Abbas he’d spare no effort to see Mideast peace
Anshel Pfeffer and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/19/2008
U. S. President-elect Barack Obama has called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and told him that peace is a vital interest for Israelis and Palestinians, according to a Palestinian negotiator. Saeb Erekat, who is the chief official responsible for overseeing peace negotiations with Israel, said that in a phone call late Tuesday, Obama told Abbas that he would spare no effort to facilitate a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres said Tuesday that Obama proclaimed himself "very impressed" with the Arab League’s peace plan when the two discussed it during the American president-elect;s brief visit to Israel four months ago. Peres, who had just arrived in London for an official visit, made the comment in interviews to be published in the British media.

UK solidarity groups to protest Shimon Peres visit to London
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A number of solidarity groups plan to hold a demonstration at the British parliament building in London on Wednesday over Israeli President Shimon Peres’ visit to the United Kingdom (UK). Several human rights organizations called on the British public to protest the visit by Peres, and labeling Israel as a “state that violates international laws every day as [it] besieges and assault innocent Palestinians,” according to a statement received by Ma’an. Meanwhile, the British parliament is scheduled to convene on Wednesday to discuss a parliamentarian taskforce on the Question of Palestine and the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. British Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbin will preside over the session. Representing the “Leave Palestinians Alone” campaign in the UK is Rami Abdu, who will address the meeting and “update participants on the suffering of the Gazan people as a result of the crippling siege.

A London demonstration protesting at Israel’s president visit to the region
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008
Scores of British Palestinians and some solidarity campaigners staged today noon a demonstration in front of the UK parliament premises , in protest against the visit of Israeli President Shimon Peres, to the region. Palestinian community-based organizations in the UK along with British ones, expressed rejection to the visit of a state’s president ’that violated all humanitarian laws and norms on daily basis as well as besieges Palestinian civilians’. The organizers, represented by the Leave the Palestinians campaign , Rami Abdo, will deliver a speech before the UK parliament , explaining the Gaza situation under the Israeli blockade. Also, British MP and human rights activist , Gorge Gallawi, will deliver a speech, outlining the situation in Palestine. Israeli president , Shimon Peres, is visiting the British capital within diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Israel worried that U.K. pressure will harm exports to Europe
Ora Coren, Ha’aretz 11/19/2008
The old disagreement between Israel and the European Union over exports from the "territories" - areas beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders - has resurfaced, this time courtesy of Britain. The hope in the U. K. is that economic pressure will persuade Israel to reach agreement with the Palestinians and stop building in the settlements. Sources near the talks say London is accusing some Israeli companies of fraud: Their labeling indicates that they manufacture in Israel, but their plants are in the territories. The British are pressing the European Commission to take action against Israel, but the EC has demanded evidence of the alleged fraud. The British are working on finding proof, and have also complained to Israeli customs about certain companies. Another old spat to resurface is between Israel and the EU over recognition of the Palestinian-European trade pact.

Germany-Egypt sub sale worries Israel
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
Israel is increasingly concerned that Germany might sell Dolphin-class submarines to Egypt, top defense and political officials told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Cairo, officials said, has opened talks with Berlin aimed at having the Egyptian navy purchase several Dolphin-class submarines, regarded as one of the top diesel-powered submarines in the world. Egypt is apparently interested in upgrading its aging submarine fleet, though officials regard it as strange that Cairo is looking to buy exactly the same submarine that Israel operates. Israel currently operates three Dolphin-class submarines made in Germany. The construction of two more submarines - ordered following the Second Lebanon War in 2006 - is scheduled to be completed by 2010. According to foreign media reports, Israel’s submarines are capable of launching a "second strike" in the event of a nuclear attack against Israel.

Egyptian govt appeals ban on gas exports to Israel
Lior Baron, Globes Online 11/19/2008
Meanwhile, despite yesterday’s court ruling, gas continues to flow in the Egypt-Israel pipeline. The Egyptian government is to appeal against the decision by a Cairo court to halt the export of gas to Israel, London based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reports today. According to the report, the Egyptian authorities have decided to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the ruling by the administrative court suspending delivery of gas. It is believed that the Egyptian government will notify the Israeli government of its decision, after Jerusalem requested clarifications from Egypt yesterday evening. The authorities in Egypt demanded that execution of the court ruling should be frozen until an appeal was filed. Meanwhile, gas continues to flow to Israel as normal. The Egyptian government’s intention to appeal against the court decision is consistent with the announcement. . .

U.S. FAA downgrades Israel’s aviation safety ranking
Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
The U. S Federal Aviation Administration is expected to announce the lowering of Israel’s aviation security ranking following an inspection on Wednesday that uncovered severe security shortcomings in the Israel Civil Aviation Authority. As a result the image of Israeli airlines in the United States and in Europe may be harmed, as well as their profitability. As a consequence of the announcement, Israeli airlines’ flights to the United States will be limited, meaning there will be no additional flights to the U. S and no option for other aircrafts to be added. Moreover, supervision on air traffic and the activity of Israeli airlines in the U. S will be increased. Israel’s aviation security will receive a ranking which some 10-20 other countries have been given, most of which are third world countries.

VIDEO - IDF resorts to creative means to lure kids to enlist in notorious Kfir Brigade
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for November 19, 2008 -The Kfir Infantry Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces is finding itself coming up with some creative tricks to attract high school students readying for enlistment. In one attempt to lend some exoticism to the brigade’s activities, an entire mock Palestinian village was constructed at the Bakum, the IDF’s induction and processing base. A muezzin, a casbah, a vegetable market, and checkpoint were all thrown in for a bit of color. But promoting the Kfir Brigade is largely an attempt to clear its name. The brigade’s soldiers were recently found to be the IDF’s main perpetrators of crimes against Palestinians. Related articles:Kfir brigade leads in West Bank violations Something bad is happening to us3 IDF troops jailed for exposing themselves to Palestinians Also on Haaretz.

Netanyahu vows rapid Palestinian economic growth
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
Likud prime ministerial candidate Binyamin Netanyahu promised a dramatic turnaround in the Palestinian economy if he wins the February 10 election, in a speech to the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Jerusalem on Thursday. Netanyahu, who was credited with turning around the Israeli economy when he was finance minister from 2003 to 2005, said he would ensure that the same happened to the Palestinians as part of his economic peace plan. The plan calls for continuing diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, regional cooperation with Jordan and mass investment in the Palestinian Authority to give the Palestinians an incentive to seek peace. He said he had several projects in mind for Arab cities in the West Bank and along the seam line. Netanyahu said that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians had not succeeded because they were. . .

Economic crunch spurs ADL layoffs
Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
Facing a tight economic crunch, the New York-based Anti Defamation League has laid off nearly 10 percent of its staff at its national headquarters, the organization said Wednesday. The cuts at the non-profit organization, which like other American Jewish groups is reliant on private donations, were the starkest indication to date on how the US economic malaise has forced these groups to carry out staff cuts. The organization has laid off 18 employees, 17 of whom worked at the New York headquarters, a spokeswoman said. "In anticipation of the economic crunch we have to be financially responsible," ADL spokeswoman Myrna Shinbaum said. She added that the layoffs did not affect any of the ADL’s 30 regional officers across the US, although the spokesman of the Jerusalem office was among those let go.

GA special report / Satisfied participants bid farewell to Jerusalem
Sara Miller, Ha’aretz 11/19/2008
After four days, dozens of speakers, hundreds of stalls and thousands of participants from Israel and the United States, the United Jewish Communities General Assembly bid farewell to the International Convention Center in Jerusalem with an eye to next year’s event in Washington D. C. Some 5,000 people took part in the annual conference, held every fifth year in Israel. Approximately 3,500 members of the American Jewish community flew over to network, discuss the burning issues and meet their Israeli counterparts. For Robert Kern, head of communications for event sponsor American Friends of Magen David Adom, the event was an extremely beneficial experience. "The GA is a great place to be seen and to get your message heard," he said.

’Vindicated’ Eckstein finally gets official appreciation from Jewish organizations
Jacob Berkman, Jerusalem Post 11/18/2008
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, got the thanks he’s been looking for from the organized Jewish world on Monday at a reception at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly. Eckstein, who started the fellowship 25 years ago, has raised some $500 million from Evangelical Christians to give to impoverished Jews, Jewish groups and Zionist causes. The relationship has often been one of contention, as the Jewish community has long been wary of receiving Christian money, especially for Zionist purposes. But Eckstein has become a strategic partner of both of the federation system’s overseas arms, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The fellowship has long been a donor to the JDC, giving the organization $9m.

Palestine delegation attends Arab League conference in Cairo
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Cairo – Ma’an – An international conference on civil society institutions in the Arab world concluded in Cairo on Wednesday, Ma’an’s correspondent in Egypt reported. A 17-member Palestinian delegation attended the event, titled “Moral Responsibility of Civil Society Organizations in the Arab World: the Right to Freedom of Association. ”Large delegations from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan also participated. The conference was brokered by Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League, in partnership with the European Union (EU) mission to Cairo and the Fredriche Nawman Institute for Freedom. Palestine’s delegation, headed by Judicial Minister Ali Khashan, joined a number of parliamentary deputies and directors of civil community institutions. Participants from the Gaza Strip were not permitted to attend the event due to the ongoing Israeli blockade.

Abbas mad at head of Arab League, decides to boycott foreign ministers’ meeting
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Official Fatah sources revealed that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas was indignant at Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa and would not attend the meeting of Arab foreign ministers because of the latter’s refrainment from holding the Hamas Movement responsible for thwarting the inter-Palestinian dialog. Head of Fatah parliamentary bloc Azzam Al-Ahmed told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that PA negotiator Saeb Erekat would head the Fatah delegation at the meeting and would table an assessment of the negotiations with Israel. Egyptian diplomatic sources stated that most of the Arab countries refuse the idea of imposing sanctions on Hamas and holding it responsible for the failure of dialog, adding that such a move would not support the Arab tendencies to mediate between the Palestinian rivals. The sources denied that the Egyptian paper to be tabled during the. . .

Islamic Jihad: Hamas will appoint own president if Abbas refuses to step down
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Cairo – Ma’an – Hamas will likely appoint its own president if Mahmoud Abbas does not step down at the end of his term on 9 January, a senior Islamic Jihad leader predicted on Wednesday. In an interview in Cairo, Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad Al-Hindi predicted “more exchange of blame, and president Abbas will find a legal [justification to stay], and he will gain Arab and European support. However, Hamas will appoint its own president, and that might be the PLC speaker. If it comes true, Al-Hindi’s prediction would signify a deepening of the rift between Hamas and Fatah, Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas still recognizes the Fatah-affiliated Abbas as the elected president, but wants Abbas’ to step down in January. Abbas has vowed to extend his term without the approval of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

De facto Gaza minister calls on PA to release West Bank detainees
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto head of the Public Works Ministry in the Gaza Strip called on Palestinian Authority (PA) security services to release a Hamas-affiliated leader, Farid Ziyada, on Wednesday, one day after he was reportedly seized in Nablus. Yousif Al-Mansi, the de facto Public Works minister, urged the PA to release Ziyada, who is the de facto director of the minister’s office in the Hamas-led government. The movement claims he was detained in the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday. Political arrests of Hamas leaders and members “have no legal basis,” Al-Mansi said in a statement received by Ma’an, referencing what the movement has called is an intentional targeting of political figures in the West Bank. He called on the PA to release all “political detainees. ”

Hamas denies intention to allow extension of Abbas’s term in office
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008
The ruling Hamas party in Gaza denied on Wednesday its intention to allow extension of the Palestinian president’s term in office, saying the issue depends mainly on the Palestinian law and constitution. Hamas’s spokesperson in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, responded to some media reports by saying " the extension of the president’s term in office will depend on the Palestinian law and constitution". Regarding his party’s contacts for dialogue with the Fatah party of president Abbas, the Hamas spokesman maintained that there are underway contacts with some Arab states in order to end the division between Ramallah and Gaza. He reiterated his party’s stance that any dialogue should proceed only after the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, releases all Hamas detainees in its prisons.

UNRWA Commissioner-General warns of ''grave and imminent financial crisis''
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 11/19/2008
Amman -The Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Karen AbuZayd has warned that UNRWA is facing what she called "a grave and imminent crisis" and that if it is to be averted, the Agency must receive significant additional pledges in the first quarter of 2009. Addressing UNRWA’s annual meeting that brings together donors, host governments, NGO partners and other UNRWA stakeholders, AbuZayd explained that according to present budget projections, in the first quarter of next year, the General Fund which funds UNRWA’s core services will suffer a shortfall of upwards of US 87 million. This combined with other unfunded projects put on hold from previous years means an overall shortfall across the Agency of about US 160 million. "This will bring UNRWA closer to financial crisis than it has ever been.

OPT: UN calls for more funds for Palestinian refugees
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 11/18/2008
AMMAN, Nov 18, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- The UNRWA Hosts and Donors Meeting kicked off Tuesday in Jordan’s capital of Amman, with the cash- strapped UN aid agency calling for more funds for millions of Palestinian refugees. The UNRWA, known as United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, expects its budget deficit for this year and the first quarter of 2009 to reach around 160 million U. S. dollars, Karen Koning AbuZayd, UNRWA commissioner general, told reporters. "We are making special appeals to our Arab partners in the Gulf, " said AbuZayd after the first-day session of the two-day meeting. "We have had very good experiences with Gulf contributors in the past for major projects and we hope we will get the same kind of support. " The head of the UN agency also stressed the severe humanitarian situation facing Gaza residents. . .

Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP): Appeal 2009 for occupied Palestinian territory
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 11/19/2008
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Living conditions for most Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) have continued to deteriorate in 2008. The year began with a renewed sense of hope for progress, following the resumption of relations between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the international community’s full endorsement of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) ambitious Reform and Development Plan (PRDP). Throughout 2008, the PA has proceeded with a series of significant and tangible reforms, reducing its fiscal deficit, containing its wage bill and improving security conditions in the West Bank. However, growth targets projected in the PA’s development plan have recently been revised downwards, as economic productivity continues to decline. This is in large part due to conditions in Gaza, where the ongoing Israeli-imposed blockade has. . .

European Union contributes EUR 5 million for vulnerable refugees in Gaza
European Commission - EC, ReliefWeb 11/18/2008
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) - East Jerusalem - The European Union is contributing an additional €5 million to UNRWA for cash subsidies to some of the most vulnerable refugee families in Gaza in 2009. This assistance targets families in abject poverty who are unable to meet their basic minimum nutritional requirements. These subsidies are provided in addition to the food and cash aid these refugees receive under UNRWA’s Special Hardship Case programme. The cash subsidies give families the flexibility to make purchases according to their primary needs and to increase the likelihood of their buying fresh foods. The provision of cash subsidies to the most vulnerable refugees is part of UNRWA’s. . .

Catalan Development Cooperation Agency (ACCD) contributes EUR 430,000 to 2008 Emergency Appeal in the West Bank
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 11/19/2008
The Catalan Development Cooperation Agency (ACCD) has signed an agreement to provide 430,000 Euros to support UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Programme in the West Bank, during a signing ceremony attended by UNRWA’s Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd and the Vicepresident of Generalitat of Catalonia, Rt. Hon. Josep-Lluis Carod-Rovira, in Amman. This Agreement is intended to promote education in mental health and general welfare of Palestine refugees in the West Bank, through psycho-social support and counselling services to children, youth and parents. This contribution to UNRWA’s 2008 Emergency Appeal comes as part of a Framework Agreement signed in Barcelona earlier this year, thus extending the collaboration initiated between UNRWA and the ACCD in 2004. The ACCD has pledged a contribution to UNRWA of EUR 470,000 for 2009.

Palestinians to hand over wanted militant to LAF
Daily Star 11/20/2008
BEIRUT: Palestinian officials and Islamist figures in the southern city of Sidon reportedly started efforts on Wednesday aimed at handing over six wanted militants to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). Among the wanted is Abdel al-Rahman Awad, who is believed the successor of the militant group Fatah al-Islam’s leader Shaker al-Abssi. Abssi fled the refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared last year when his fighters were defeated by the LAF following fierce battles. The southern camp of Ain el-Hilweh is believed to be Awad’s most recent hideout. News reports on Wednesday said that Awad and some of his men were being protected by the Usbat al-Ansar Islamist group. The fresh efforts were triggered by a meeting on Tuesday between the LAF’s deputy chief of military intelligence, Colonel Abbas Ibrahim, and 50 political and civil society leaders from the camp.

Ghajar ’residents irate’ over possible IDF pullout
Hagai Einav and Roni Sofer, YNetNews 11/19/2008
Residents of divided village outraged over Jerusalem’s decision to launch talks on ceding control of its northern section to UNIFIL. ’We will not accept any decision that will separate families and violate our rights,’ council secretary says -Residents of Israel and Lebanon, and ceding control to UNIFIL forces. A perimeter fence was built along the northern edge of the village in Lebanese territory, up to 800 meters north of the of the internationally demarcated border between Israel and Lebanon. The government’s decision to launch talks with the UN was reached Wednesday following a Prime Minister’s Office security briefing on the matter, which was called after the UN offered to station monitors in the village. Israel has expressed concerns that Hizbullah operatives may use the divided village in order to cross into Israel.

NGOs: Teach Islam to Jews and Judaism to Muslims
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
A coalition of non-governmental organizations and educators hope to improve Muslim-Jewish coexistence in Israel by teaching Islam to Jews and Judaism to Muslims in the nation’s public schools. "We believe that if there will be more knowledge about Islam among Jews and if Israeli Muslims know more about Judaism this would have a positive effect on social relations," said Rabbi Ron Kronish, head of the Interreligious Coordination Council (ICCI). "There is a high level of ignorance on both sides which leads to mutual suspicion and stereotyping. " Relations between Israeli Arabs and Jews have deteriorated over the past eight years, particularly after 13 Arabs were killed in what has become known as the October riots of 2000, in support of the second Palestinian intifada. Acre, one of the few cities in which Jews and Arabs live together, was the most recent flashpoint of violence.

IAEA reports little headway on Iran and Syria probes
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/20/2008
VIENNA: The UN atomic watchdog on Wednesdayreported scant progress in its investigations into alleged nuclear activities in both Iran and Syria. In its first official report on Syria, theInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it could not yet determineif a building in a remote site bombed by Israeli planes last year was a nuclear reactor, as the United States claims. The IAEA also said it had made no "substantive" progress in its six-year investigation into Iran’s nuclear work. The watchdog dispatched a team of experts to Damascus in June to investigate US allegations that Syria had been building a clandestine nuclear facility with North Korean help. In the restricted report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, the IAEA said: "While it cannot be excluded that the building in question was intended for non-nuclear use, the features of the building.

Assad: Israel never asked Syria to cut ties with Hezbollah, Iran
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Syrian President Bashar Assad said this week that Israel has not demanded Damascus drop its ties with Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran, according to a piece released Wednesday by Lebanese columnist Jihad al-Hazan. Al-Hazan wrote that Assad told him recently in Damascus that "the negotiations are for peace on the Syrian-Israeli track only and have no connection to the relations between Lebanon and Israel. Nobody will attack Israel from within Syrian range if a peace agreement is signed. ""If they [Israel] are discussing Hezbollah or Hamas, then that is a conversation about general peace and we would be facing a different process built on entirely different principles," al-Hazan wrote of his conversation with the Syrian leader. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said last month following reports that outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert intended. . .

Nuclear watchdog warns Syria over ’reactor’
The Independent 11/20/2008
The nuclear watchdog has said that a Syrian complex bombed by Israel resembled an undeclared nuclear reactor and warned the country to co-operate more with UN inspectors. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that "significant" numbers of uranium particles were found at the site in June, but that it was not enough to prove a reactor was there. The confidential report, published yesterday and obtained by Reuters, said the IAEA would ask Syria to show debris and equipment it removed from the site after the air raid in September 2007. The US says the target was a nascent reactor meant to produce plutonium for atomic bombs. Syria denies this. Syria says the uranium traces came from the munitions used to bomb it. Damascus has also dismissed as fabricated the satellite imagery and other intelligence used in the IAEA inquiry.

IAEA: Syria site bombed by Israel bore features of nuclear reactor
Yossi Melman , and Reuters, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
A Syrian complex bombed by Israel bore features that would resemble those of an undeclared nuclear reactor and Syria must cooperate more with UN inspectors to let them draw conclusions, a watchdog report said on Wednesday. According to the report, nuclear inspectors took samples from the site, which was bombed by Israel Air Force jets in September 2007, on their lone visit in June 2008. Lab results showed traces of uranium, according to the report, which stressed that the traces had undergone chemical processes. The report states that the high number of water pumping installations was sufficient to serve a nuclear facility that would be built near the Euphrates River. The International Atomic Energy Agency report stresses that Syria refuses to produce documents in relation to the site as it is required to do.

UK, Syria cooperating on intelligence - Miliband
Daily Star 11/20/2008
BEIRUT: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Wednesday that Britain and Syria have established cooperation between their respective intelligence agencies. Speaking in Beirut after meeting with President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, Miliband said that the British government had been discussing intelligence cooperation with Damascus for the past 18 months. "We will work with the Syrian government on counter-terrorism measures because terrorism threatens us both," he said, after emphasizing that establishing intelligence links between the two countries had not been the "main purpose" of his visit to Damascus. He said that cooperation on counter-terrorism was one of several issues that he had discussed with his counterpart in Damascus. Others were Syria’s role in Iraq, in the wider Middle East peace process, its human-rights record and its role in Lebanon.

Israel unveils $5.4 billion stimulus package
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/20/2008
JERUSALEM: Israeli Finance Minister Roni Bar-On unveiled on Wednesday a multi-billion dollar economic stimulus package aimed at reducing the impact of the global financial crisis on the Jewish state. "We will invest 21. 7 billion shekels ($5. 4 billion) in 2009, or 41 percent more than the previous year, to promote the creation of thousands of jobs," the minister said at a news conference after presenting his plan to a restricted Cabinet meeting that included caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Central bank chief Stanley Fischer. The finance minister said that the plan calls for government investments in infrastructure, public transport, roads, construction, energy and tourism. The state also should considerably increase financing of research and credits for small businesses, Bar-On said. He stressed the Bank of Israel should lower its key interest rate.

’Site bombed by IAF had nuclear reactor characteristics’
Ap And Jpost Staff, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
A Syrian site bombed by Israel in September 2007 had the characteristics of a nuclear reactor, the UN nuclear watchdog agency said in a report it issued Wednesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency also said its probe into Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program is deadlocked. The two reports are being shared with the 35 nations on the IAEA board. The Iran report also goes to the UN Security Council. Syria denied the allegations that the site, located deep in the Syrian Desert, was an atomic reactor. The regime claimed that the complex destroyed by IAF warplanes was an agricultural research center. Several days ago the Syrian Foreign Minister Wallid Moallem said on television that traces of uranium found in the site originated with the IAF’s bombs. On Monday, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates that the radioactive material’s source was inconclusive.

Finance Minister presents plan: Investment will add 10,000 jobs
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/19/2008
Ronnie Bar-On presented his NIS 21. 7 billion economic stimulus plan today. "We’re increasing government investment in available projects in infrastructure, energy, transportation, water, tourism, and the labor market by NIS 21. 7 billion, a 41% increase compared with investment in 2008. This increase will create at least 10,000 jobs," said Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On at the press conference where he presented his economic stimulus plan. Bar-On said, "The global economy is in the midst of a very severe crisis. The global crisis will affect, and is already affecting, the Israeli economy, and will severely affect its growth rate. We have the means to enable the economy to emerge from this crisis with minimal damage. We’re a small but strong country coping with a global storm, and I’m sure that we can withstand the storm even if it damages us.

Britain resumes intelligence links with Syria
Middle East Online 11/19/2008
LONDON - Britain re-established high-level intelligence links with the Syrian authorities as Foreign Secretary David Miliband visited Damascus, the Times newspaper said Wednesday citing senior Syrian officials. The newspaper said the move could be hugely beneficial for Britain, as Syria has one of the best intelligence-gathering systems in the Middle East, particularly in tracking the movements of extremists in Iraq. It cited a Syrian official as saying that Miliband asked his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem, during a meeting in New York earlier this year "whether he could re-establish intelligence links at a senior level", following lower level contacts. Muallem reportedly invited Miliband to take intelligence officials with him on the trip to Damascus, the first to Syria by a top British diplomat since 2001.

Sri Lankans donate office equipment to Palestinian school
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Sri Lankans donated a computer and printer to the Al-Shoroq School in the West Bank city of Beitunia on the occasion of the Sri Lankan president’s 63rd birthday, according to a statement received by Ma’an. The Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity with Palestine marked the occasion of the 63rd birthday of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa by transferring the office equipment to the Palestinian school’s principal, the statement said. [end]

Police mull investigation of finance minister
Noam Sharvit, Globes Online 11/19/2008
The Investigations Branch is considering charges of double voting. The Israel Police Investigations and Intelligence Branch is considering whether to initiate an inquiry against Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On for double voting on the economic plan bill in May 2003. The police say that it has material about Bar-On’s vote and that if an evidentiary basis is found for opening an investigation, it will notify the Attorney General to do so, as required in investigations against a minister. Earlier this week, Hebrew daily "Yediot Ahronot" published photographs that proved that former Shas MK Yehiel Haza and Likud MK Michael Gorlovsky were not the only ones who double voted on the day in question. The photographs show that Bar-On did so as well, on behalf of former Likud MK Inbal Gavriely. Bar-On later gave evidence to the police about Hazan’s double vote, and declared, "I did not make a double vote on behalf of MK Inbal Gavriely.

Livni slams opponents of stimulus plan
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
Shas and the Labor Party oppose the Treasury’s economic stimulus package for political reasons, Kadima chairman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday. "It is aggravating to see that there are political parties who are trying to attain political capital at the expense of the public," she said. "The behavior of Shas and the Labor Party in opposing the emergency stimulus package teaches us why we shouldn’t vote for sectarian parties. The program is essential in dealing with the crisis in the real economy and a potential recession, independent of the question of the state’s provision for a safety net for savings. " Livni said opposing the economic package prepared by the Treasury would withhold billions of shekels of investment in infrastructure and support for businesses. On Sunday, the package was approved in principle by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Former Sayeret Matkal chief to bid for slot on Kadima roster
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 11/19/2008
Doron Avital announces joining party ranks, says will seek place on its Knesset roster ahead of nearing elections - Dr. Doron Avital, former commander of Sayeret Matkal - the IDF’s elite Special Forces unit - announced Wednesday that he would be bidding for a slot on Kadima’s Knesset roster ahead of the next general elections. Avital commanded Sayeret Matkal during two of its milestones: The operation in which the IDF kidnapped Mustafa Dirani - a prominent member of the Lebanese Shiite movement Amal - and the Tze’elim tragedy of 1992, in which five soldiers were killed by friendly fire during a military exercise. Avital, who is currently a partner in Evergreen Venture Capital, has a PhD in Logic and Philosophy from Columbia University, a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science, and a Masters in History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas from the Tel Aviv University.

Huge bonuses at Bank of Israel
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 11/19/2008
Employees will receive ten of thousands of shekels each. It seems that the Bank of Israel has not received the message that there is an economic crisis or recession. Hebrew daily "Yediot Ahronot" reports today that nearly every Bank of Israel employee will receive a bonus amounting to ten of thousands of shekels in 2009. A Bank of Israel source confirmed the report to "Globes". The Bank of Israel has 720 employees. "Yediot Ahronot" says that half of them will receive an "outstanding job bonus" and a promotion, which will boost their monthly salaries by NIS 2,000 to NIS 6,000 each. The other half will receive a bonus for 2008, despite the economic crisis. Bank of Israel sources said that, under the new wage agreement, hundreds of central bank employees forewent special pay hikes and benefits. The employees’ condition deteriorated significantly, saving a great deal of money.

Report: 90% of schools offer auxiliary programs not monitored by Education Min.
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Associations, foundations and business groups are operating educational programs in approximately 90 percent of elementary and junior highs, according to a report submitted last month to the Education Ministry. The report is the first attempt to determine the scope of non-profit sector involvement in the education system. "This is not a peripheral phenomenon, but a new situation which influences the structure of study in schools," the report said, indicating that the majority of such programs are offered without any supervision from the Education Ministry. Moreover, in the absence of an organized framework for the programs, it is particularly difficult to determine their effectiveness. The report was submitted last month by the Institute for Educational Initiatives at Beit Berl Academic College in Kfar Saba, and surveyed 180 schools.

Sadrist MPs force early end to House reading of US-Iraqi security pact
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/20/2008
BAGHDAD: Legislators loyal to firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr shouted down the Iraqi Parliament’s second reading on Wednesday of a military pact allowing US troops to remain in Iraq until the end of 2011. The agreement, approved by the Cabinet on Sunday, has been fiercely criticized by the Sadrists, who oppose any deal with the US "occupier" and have vowed to derail it with legislative maneuvers and mass demonstrations. On Wednesday, they managed to force an adjournment. The accord would govern the more than 150,000 US troops in more than 400 bases across Iraq when their UN mandate - obtained after the fact of the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq - expires on December 31, and will require them to withdraw from all cities and towns by the end of June 2009. At the start of the parliamentary session, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari urged lawmakers to act quickly, saying: "We don’t have to be ashamed with the results of the negotiations.

Iraqis want walls torn down
Ahmed Janabi, Al Jazeera 11/19/2008
Iraqis say the walls have fostered sectarian divisions in Baghdad and should be demolishedAs the Iraqi parliament continues to debate the US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa), residents of Baghdad are urging the government to tear down the walls which separate their neighbourhoods. Iraqis say the walls were designed to consolidate sectarianism and establish a number of cantons; now that security has improved, they say, there is no reason to allow the walls to stand. Maysoon Abd al-Hamid, a 57-year-old engineer from Adhamiya, says the walls are a nightmare. "I cannot believe this is happening to us in the 21st century. . . we are living in a roofless prison, caged in like animals. The walls have cut our neighbourhoods and redrawn the map of our capital. "After the US invasion and fall of the former government, Adhamiya, a predominantly Sunni Arab neighbourhood of mainly middle class professionals and former Iraqi army officers.

NGOs concerned over Iraq detainees
Middle East Online 11/19/2008
BAGHDAD - Local NGOs are concerned about the rights of detainees in US military custody due to be transferred to the Iraqi authorities in 2009 in line with a draft US-Iraqi security pact. “There are fears among human rights activists, NGOs and parliamentarians about what the situation of these detainees will look like when they are transferred to the Iraqi authorities,” Iraqi activist Basil al-Azawi said. “As parliament represents the Iraqi people, it should act in line with the interests of Iraqis. . . Absolute justice must be achieved and Iraqi and international laws must be implemented when dealing with those detainees in Iraqi prisons,” he told IRIN. Al-Azawi, who heads the Baghdad-based Commission for Civil Society Enterprises, an umbrella group of over 1,000 NGOs, urged parliament to amend the agreement to ensure the rights of the detainees.

Iraq debate on US pact disrupted
Al Jazeera 11/19/2008
Legislators loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shia leader, have shouted down a parliamentary debate over a security pact that would keep US troops in Iraq for three more years. The session on Wednesday was adjourned until the following day by Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the parliamentary speaker. The parliamentary session was adjourned after Ahmed al-Massoudi, a politician loyal to al-Sadr, approached a legislator from the ruling coalition who was reading aloud the text of the agreement. Al-Massoudi appeared to be about to grab the document, the Associated Press reported. Personal guards of Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, stopped al-Massoudi from snatching the document. US occupation The pact has the support of the ruling coalition but al-Sadr’s followers oppose. . .

Iran cools on Iraq’s US accord
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 11/20/2008
The issue of the United States-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), now pending before the Iraqi parliament after its approval by the Iraqi cabinet, is highly contentious not only in Iraq but also neighboring Iran, which has so much at stake with respect to the scope and duration of the presence of US forces in its vicinity. A considerable initial softening of Iran’s fierce opposition to the SOFA emerged via a statement by Iran’s judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, that praised the Iraqi government. "The Iraqi government has done very well regarding this. . . We hope the outcome of [the deal] will be in favor of Islam and Iraqi sovereignty," Shahroudi’s statement, widely disseminated by the Iranian media, stated. This represented a significant turnaround from nearly two years of adamant objection to the agreement by Iran’s leaders, including from President Mahmud Ahmadinejad

Economic noose tightens around Iran
Hossein Askari, Asia Times 11/20/2008
Iran’s economic failures since the revolution of 1979 are obvious to anyone who looks into the available statistics. The average Iranian is no better off today than in 1979. Public hospitals are overcrowded and ill-equipped; they don’t seem to be in the same century when compared with the expensive private clinics in the capital, Tehran. In comparison with 1979, Iran’s oil production is about 30% lower, international reserves are lower, average real per capita income today is lower, income distribution is worse, while dependence on oil revenues is higher, unemployment and inflation are both above 25%, and the list goes on. The signs of economic failure are everywhere to behold. While economic sanctions, the high numbers of refugees and especially the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s have had a significant effect on economic developments in Iran, economic failures have been largely self-inflicted.

VIDEO - Peres: Iran wants Mideast religious bloc
Hagit Klaiman, YNetNews 11/19/2008
(Video) Addressing British Parliament, president says world must cooperate to halt Iranian threat, as Islamic Republic’s leadership ’is obsessed with its quest for regional religious domination, attempting to impose their version on everyone’ - VIDEO - LONDON -"The Iranian leadership’s grand design is to convert the Middle East into one religious bloc," President Shimon Peres said Wednesday during his address to the British Parliament. " The Iranian leadership is obsessed with its quest for regional religious domination. This quest is supported by long range missiles, enriched uranium and fanatic incitement - all fueled by the excessive price of oil," he said. Religious CensorshipIran admits to blocking millions of websites / Dudi Cohen In unprecedented speech, Islamic Republic’s prosecutor general says regime has censored over five million sites. . .

Iran admits to blocking millions of websites
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 11/19/2008
In unprecedented speech, Islamic Republic’s prosecutor general says regime has censored over five million sites due to ’unethical content’; bloggers concerned over new bill that would allow execution for publishing anti-Islamic material online -Five million internet websites are currently being blocked by the Iranian government, a progressive site called ’Rooz’ reported Wednesday, quoting the Islamic Republic’s prosecutor general as its source. The report added that a few million additional sites were being censored as a "preemptive measure" by the regime. The report is the first ever in which a legislative source from Iran has divulged information about the regime’s censorship policies. Blogger or Spy? Report: Iranian blogger who visited Israel arrested in Tehran / Iranian website says famous blogger Hossein Derakhshan, who visited Israel. . .

’Herod family sarcophagi uncovered’
Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
A year and a half after the discovery of the tomb of King Herod on the Judean Desert hilltop known as Herodion, an Israeli archaeologist said Wednesday that ongoing excavation at the site has uncovered two additional sarcophagi which likely belonged to members of Herod’s family. Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed king of Judea from 37 to 4 BCE, was renowned for his many monumental building projects which included the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, the palace at Masada, the harbor and city of Caesarea and the sprawling palatial complex at Herodion, 15 km. south of the capital. The dig at the site, which is being directed by Hebrew University Professor Ehud Netzer, has determined that the mausoleum where Herod’s sarcophagus was unearthed had been a lavish, two-story structure with an approximately 25-meter-high, concave-conical roof appropriate for someone of Herod’s status and taste, Netzer said.

Archaeologists find new evidence for King Herod’s tomb site
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 11/20/2008
Israeli archaeologists excavating what they believe is the tomb of biblical King Herod said Wednesday they have unearthed lavish Roman-style wall paintings of a kind previously unseen in the Middle East and signs of a regal two-story mausoleum, bolstering their conviction that the Jewish monarch was buried here. Ehud Netzer, head of the team from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, which uncovered the site at the king’s winter palace in the Judean desert in 2007, said his latest finds show work and funding fit for a king. "What we found here, spread all around, are architectural fragments that enable us to restore a monument of 25 meters high, 75 feet high, very elegant, which fits Herod’s taste and status," he toldin an interview Wednesday at the hillside dig in an Israeli-controlled part of the West Bank, south of Jerusalem.

Zawahri taunts Obama as ’house negro’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/20/2008
DUBAI: Al-Qaeda number two Ayman Zawahri ridiculed US President-elect Barack Obama as a "house negro" and warned him against sending more troops to Afghanistan, in an Internet audio message on Wednesday. Zawahri insulted Obama and other black Americans who have held high office in the US administration with a term used by the late Malcolm X for slaves whose docile behavior earned them the favor of their white "masters. ""It is true about you and people like you. . . what Malcolm X said about the house negroes," he said, naming former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the current secretary, Condoleezza Rice. An English transcript of the speech in Arabic purportedly by the Al-Qaeda number two was provided by Al-Qaeda’s media arm, As-Sahab. The tape features an old speech by Malcolm X. Obama’s transition team declined to comment on the tape, in which Zawahri accuses Obama of siding with Israel.

U.S.: Obama Urged to Strengthen Ties with U.N.
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service 11/20/2008
WASHINGTON, Nov 19(IPS) - A bipartisan group of some three dozen senior foreign policy figures has released a statement calling for President-elect Barack Obama to make strengthening long-troubled U. S. relations with the United Nations a major priority in his new administration. It calls, among other things, for the incoming administration to pay U. S. debts to the world body on time, join the much-criticised Human Rights Council (HRC) in order to better influence its direction, and seek Senate approval of key treaties signed by past U. S. presidents but never ratified. It also calls for the new administration to lead U. N. efforts on nuclear proliferation, climate change, and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an ambitious set of targets adopted in 2000 that include increasing foreign aid from wealthy countries like the United States in order to, among other. . .

Citi Israel: Cutbacks won’t affect local activity
Roee Bergman, Globes Online 11/19/2008
Citi Israel has 140 employees. Source at Citi Israel Ltd. say that the recently announced cutbacks by Citigroup Inc. (C), including 52,000 layoffs worldwide, will have no effect on local activity. Citi Israel has 140 employees. Citi Israel is planning a number of measures for implementation over the coming year. The sources said that, despite the difficult year that Citigroup has undergone, its Israeli activity had one of its best ever years. Citigroup opened its Israeli branch in 2000. Ralph Shaaya has been CEO of Citi Israel for the past two years. It is one of the foreign banks that is a member of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE). Despite early hopes that Citigroup would expand its activity in Israel, the bank still has only one branch that provides corporate, investment, and private banking services.

Man buys newspaper
Yoav Karny, Chicago, Globes Online 11/18/2008
Real estate tycoon Sam Zell doesn’t like journalists very much, but he believes he knows how to make newspapers profitable again [buys Chicago Tribune]. In February 2007, billionaire real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell pulled off the deal of a lifetime. Equity Office Properties Trust, the real estate empire he headed, was bought by private equity group Blackstone Group for $39 billion in cash (or $28 billion excluding its debt). Equity owned more office rental space than any other entity. This was before the world had heard of the sub-prime crisis, and before the real estate bubble burst. In short, it was a different era, on a different planet. A year and a half later, in a symposium with business administration lecturers and students at the Wharton School of Business, Zell admitted, "I couldn’t repeat the Blackstone deal today. "One may assume that Blackstone couldn’t, or wouldn’t ,repeat it either.

Conversion must be taken out of haredi hands, officials say
Haviv Rettig And Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
The three Israeli officials most involved in relations with the Diaspora called on Wednesday to remove the country’s conversion process from the "hands of the haredim. " Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel, Diaspora Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog and Jewish Agency chairman Ze’ev Bielski, all outgoing as the country goes to elections and Bielski takes a leave of absence to compete in the Kadima primary, said the conversion process was too inflexible and harmed aliya and society. The final legal authority on conversion is Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, a follower of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Speaking at a Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem, Yehezkel said the current conversion process was "stuck" because of the demands of haredi political parties that converts "adopt a haredi, not merely observant, lifestyle after their conversions.

Ariav: Passing 2009 budget still top priority for economy
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
The Finance Ministry is soon expected to unveil a multi-billion economic stimulus package, but the approval of the state budget for 2009 remains a priority to help the economy cope with a looming recession in the global economy. "Clearly not passing the state budget for 2009 is not good for the economy, and its approval is one of our main priorities in coping with the global financial and economic crisis," said Finance Ministry’s director-general Yarom Ariav in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. Nonetheless, Ariav is confident that the Israeli economy is in a better position than those of other countries to weather the global crisis with minimum damage. "All indicators show that we are entering this crisis in a good condition. The economy has grown over 5 percent on average over that past few years; unemployment and external debt have come down.

Finance Minister presents NIS 21.7b economic plan to cabinet
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 11/19/2008
Ronnie Bar-On: This plan is unprecedented in its scale. Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On today presented his NIS 21. 7 billion economic plan to the social economic cabinet. He said, "This plan is unprecedented in its scale. "He said that the plan would increase job and growth-fostering investment. The Ministry of Finance’s measures for limiting unemployment include training fired high-tech employees as teachers and IDF or National Service for haredi (ultra-orthodox) yeshiva students, and subsidizing salaries for them to join the labor force. The ministry also proposes expanding the Wisconsin welfare-to-work plan. [end]

Arab charities divided on impact of financial crisis
Middle East Online 11/19/2008
DUBAI - Charities in the Arab world have expressed a range of views on the impact of the global financial crisis on their work locally and internationally. “All charities in the area depend on businessmen and companies for funding. If this sector is affected by a fall in financial markets, liquidity will be reduced and real asset values will go down, affecting the amount of money it might donate to NGOs [non-governmental organisations; in the region],” Abdulwahab Noorwali of the Jeddah-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) told IRIN. He said public donations would also be affected. “There are two reasons for this: the first is inflation and living costs [in the region] which have increased 25-30 percent over the past 18 months. The second is that many people in the area trade in stocks and shares and any fall in the markets will reduce their donations,” he said.

Secretary-General seeks $7 billion to aid 30 million people in 2009
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 11/19/2008
(Geneva: 19 November 2008):United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for $7 billion to provide urgent humanitarian aid to 30 million people in 31 countries worldwide. "Our aim is to help these most vulnerable people survive the coming year, and enable them to start working their way out of vulnerability and despair towards the dignity, safety and self-sufficiency to which every human being has a right," the Secretary-General said in the foreword to the Appeal. The Humanitarian Appeal 2009 is the biggest Appeal ever launched since the creation of the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) in 1991. It comprises twelve consolidated appeals for the Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and region, Kenya, the occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda, the West African region, and Zimbabwe.

UNRWA facing ''grave and imminent financial crisis''
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The United Nations’ relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, is facing "a grave and imminent crisis," a senior official announced on Wednesday. The Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Karen AbuZayd said the agency’s General Fund, which funds UNRWA’s core services will suffer an 87 million US dollar shortfall beginning next year. This combined with other unfunded projects put on hold from previous years means an overall shortfall across the Agency of about 160 million US dollars. "This will bring UNRWA closer to financial crisis than it has ever been," said AbuZayd in a statement. Among the projects UNRWA is seeking funds for is the reconstruction of Naher Al-Bared Refugee Camp in Lebanon, which was destroyed by US-backed Lebanese troops in 2007.

United Nations unveils largest aid request ever - $7 billion
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/20/2008
GENEVA: The UN launched Wednesday its largest ever aid appeal, saying it would need $7 billion to help 30 million people in 31 countries during 2009. The Humanitarian Appeal 2009 is the largest since the creation of the so-called Consolidated Appeals Process in 1991, with Sudan accounting for over a quarter of all intended funds, the UN said in a statement. The appeal comprises 12 consolidated appeals for the Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and its region, Kenya, the Palestinian territories, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, the West African region and Zimbabwe, the UN said. Sudan is the subject of the largest individual appeal at $2. 1 billion, followed by Somalia ($919 million), DR Congo ($831 million), Zimbabwe ($550 million), and Iraq and the West African region ($547 million).

Blackwater gunboats will protect ships
Kim Sengupta, The Independent 11/19/2008
The American security company Blackwater is planning to cash in on the rising threat of piracy on the high seas by launching a flotilla of gunboats for hire by the shipping companies. The firm, which gained international notoriety when its staff killed civilians in Iraq, has already equipped one vessel, called The McArthur, which will carry up to 40 armed guards and have a landing pad for an attack helicopter. The McArthur, a former survey ship, arrives in the Gulf of Aden, the scene of the recent high-profile hijackings and shootouts with Somali pirates, at the end of the year. It is to be joined by three or four similar vessels over next year to form the company’s private navy. Blackwater, which has strong ties with the Republican administration in Washington, was the subject of investigations by the US Congress and the Iraqi government after its guards shot dead 17 people in. . .

Germany bans Hizbullah television
Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post Correspondent In Berlin, Jerusalem Post 11/20/2008
BERLIN - Germany has banned Hizbullah’s Al-Manar satellite television station, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter revealed on Tuesday. Dichter was in Berlin to sign a declaration of intent with his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schäuble, to foster cooperation on counterterrorism and crime-fighting technology. When asked if Hizbullah’s status as a legal organization in Germany - it has 900 active members there - would be on the agenda in his talks with the German Interior Ministry, Dichter told The Jerusalem Post: "I heard they banned Al-Manar. " An Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed to the Post that Schäuble had issued an administrative order on November 11 and that the ban would go into effect toward the end of the month. According to the spokesman, the restrictions cover Al-Manar advertisements, fund raising for its Beirut studio and the station’s reception in hotels.

Lebanon to attend Amman talks on Iraqi refugees
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/20/2008
AMMAN: Experts from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt will gather in Jordan this week to rally international support for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday. United Nations and Arab League officials as well as representatives from Turkey and Iran are also taking part in the one-day conference on Thursday, Mohammed Shahankari of the foreign ministry said. "The technical meeting will discuss the situation of Iraqi refugees, focusing on ways to support host countries and help them provide more and better services for the refugees," he said. About 4. 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes since the start of the war, with nearly two million in Syria and Jordan, and another 2. 5 million displaced within their own country, according to the UN. Jordan estimates the costs of sheltering between 500,000 and 750,000 Iraqi refugees over the past three years at more. . .


Articles


Who Will Stop the Settlers?
Jonathan Cook - Nazareth, Palestine Chronicle 11/19/2008
      ’The separation wall is being crafted to include these blocs.’
     The middle-of-the-night eviction last week of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home in East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers is a demonstration of Israeli intent towards a future peace deal with the Palestinians.
     Mohammed and Fawziya Khurd are now on the street, living in a tent, after Israeli police enforced a court order issued in July to expel them.
     The couple have been living in the same property in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood since the mid-1950s, when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. The United Nations allotted them the land after they were expelled from their homes in territory that was seized by Israel during the 1948 war.
     Since East Jerusalem’s occupation by Israel in 1967, however, Jewish settler groups have been waging a relentless battle for the Khurds’ home, claiming that the land originally belonged to Jews.
     In 1999, the settlers occupied a wing of the house belonging to the couple’s son, Raed, though the courts subsequently ruled in favour of the family. The eviction order against the settlers, unlike that against the Khurds, was never enforced.

Report on Israeli settlement in the occupied territories Nov - Dec 2008

Geoffrey Aronson, Foundation for Middle East Peace, ReliefWeb 11/19/2008
      INKERING AT THE MARGINS OF ISRAELI RULE WILL NOT END OCCUPATION OR SETTLEMENT - "Israel’s continued settlement expansion and land confiscation in the West Bank makes physical separation of our two peoples increasingly impossible," wrote Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the Wall Street Journal on September 19, 2008. "We are impatient for our freedom. Yet partial peace, as proposed again by my current [Israeli] interlocutors, is not the way forward. Partial freedom is a contradiction in terms. Either a Palestinian lives free or continues to live under the yoke of Israeli military occupation.
     "We want our children to live with hope and the opportunity to realize their potential," Abbas continued." Yet our daily reality worsens.We are walled into shrinking pockets of land, reminiscent of the Bantustans of South Africa.
     Abbas, having despaired of an agreement with Israel, has reportedly turned his efforts to winning a letter of support from outgoing U.S. president George W. Bush for a "political solution based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders.&quot.

Letter: Opposition to Jerusalem museum

Various Undersigned, The Guardian 11/15/2008
      A recent judgment by Israel’s supreme court will allow the construction of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Museum of Tolerance, designed by renowned US architect Frank Gehry, over a Muslim heritage cemetery of great historical importance in the centre of Jerusalem. It is a blow to peaceful coexistence in an already divided city.
     This project, started in 2006, had been frozen due to public outcry and legal challenge, most especially from Muslim religious leaders and the Israeli Islamic movement, with the backing of Orthodox Jews concerned about disturbing graves. The site in Mamilla, near Jerusalem’s Independence Park, is on disputed burial land taken over by the Israel’s Land Administration in 1948, whose ownership is claimed by the Islamic authorities.
     To pursue this divisive project that will include two museums, a library-education centre, a conference centre and a 500-seat performing arts theatre, would seem highly insensitive, a statement of Israel’s hegemony over the Palestinians, rather than any expression of "tolerance". All the architecture in the world cannot engender harmony on the basis of trampling over people’s rights and history. It is inflaming passions in an already combustible Middle East and will push any peace accord further off the horizon.

Gaza bakeries, mills forced to close

Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 11/19/2008
      The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, United Nations agencies and all international humanitarian organizations, to immediately intervene and exert pressure on Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to reopen border crossings of the Gaza Strip, whose closure has caused further deterioration to living conditions of approximately 1.5 million Palestinians, who have suffered from shortages in foods, medicines and other basic needs, including electricity and fuel supplies.
     According to PCHR’s field observation of humanitarian conditions, on Monday, 17 November 2008, IOF allowed the entry of 31 containers of foods and medicines into the Gaza Strip through Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, southeast of Rafah, which has been closed together with other border crossings of the Gaza Strip for two weeks. The containers were directed to UNRWA, World Food Programme, the ICRC and a number of traders of dairy and frozen products. These amounts do not meet the minimum daily needs of the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip, and they constitute less than 10 percent of the amounts allowed into the Gaza Strip before tightening the siege imposed on by IOF since June 2007. It is worth noting that IOF further tightened the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip on 5 November 2008. They closed all border crossings and cut off food, medical and fuel supplies and other basic needs. Since that date, IOF have allowed the entry of only 427,410 liters of energy fuel, which can hardly operate the Gaza power plant for one day. As a consequence, the plant has been completely stopped and at least 30 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip have lacked electricity.

Another Showdown in Gaza?

Osama al-Sharif, Palestine Chronicle 11/19/2008
      ’Kicking Gazans where it hurts serves many sides.’
     Gaza is bracing itself for a harsh winter. Less than a week has passed since Israel slammed shut doors to all land crossings, leaving a million-and-half hapless Palestinians to a miserable fate. We have seen the images before; long queues at petrol stations, Gaza city engulfed in an eerie darkness, children huddled together around a kitchen table doing their homework and trying to make use of little light from a burning candle.
     And then there are the surprise commando incursions, the dead bodies of Palestinian activists arriving at badly maintained hospitals, the wailing and crying of women and children, the angry shouts of youths calling for revenge and the occasional firing of rockets from olive groves at nearby Israeli population centers. Gaza’s saga has become predictable and banal.
     Israel’s collective punishment of millions of civilians in Gaza has become a normal event for the rest of the world. So much so that only a handful of Arab and international news media are following it. The plight of Gazans barely makes front-page headlines. Israel is politely reprimanded by the U.N., but it doesn’t care. The Arab world is silent, busy with other things. The Palestinian National Authority’s response is timid, almost suspicious.

Target Practice in Gaza

Nadia W. Awad - The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 11/19/2008
      ’On November 5, Israeli forces entered Gaza, killing six Palestinians.’ (Reuters) What came first: the chicken or the egg? And who started the latest round of clashes in Gaza: the Israelis or the Palestinians? Depending on whom one asks, the answer will be different every time - the Israelis, the Palestinians, both are guilty, it depends’
     On November 5, Israeli forces entered Gaza, killing six Palestinians in the process. Since then, Palestinian fighters have been clashing with Israeli troops and dodging Israeli missiles. In response to every Israeli action, they play their only card- they fire homemade rockets into Israel. To date, 16 Palestinians have been killed, with zero Israeli fatalities recorded. Palestinians say Israel made the first move by entering Gaza in an unwarranted and aggressive manner. Israel, on the other hand, says it was responding to rumors of possible kidnapping attempts against Israeli soldiers and the threat of more rocket attacks. But debating who started the latest round of violence is an unproductive pastime. Instead, considering the timing and the consequences of these hostilities yields a much more interesting though sad tale.

The Shooting of Brian Avery, and the Israeli Cover Up

Lasse J. Schmidt, Palestine Chronicle 11/19/2008
      Brian Avery in Jenin on April 4, the day before the shooting. In background, Israeli tank. (Photo: Lasse Schmidt) While the Israeli military’s investigation into the 2003 shooting of the American human rights worker Brian Avery did little to nothing in actually investigating the near-fatal injury, it was highly effective in covering up Israeli soldiers’ involvement, thereby sheltering them from criminal charges. That became clear some time ago when, in a Jerusalem court, none other than the soldier who pulled the trigger and his commander severely incriminated the official account of the shooting on critical points.
     However, there appear to be no regrets within the military system. Today, eleven months later, the military has not yet made any official comments on these disclosures and at the policy level things are going from bad to worse.
     "These internal, military investigations are designed to whitewash soldiers," says Brian Avery’s Israeli lawyer, Michael Sfard, "and the military keeps finding more and more excuses to use them."

Hamas-Fatah split deepens

Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Electronic Intifada 11/19/2008
      CAIRO (IPS) - Palestinian resistance factions were roundly blamed in the mainstream media for their last-minute decision to boycott last week’s Egypt-sponsored "comprehensive dialogue" summit, ostensibly aimed at Palestinian national reconciliation. But some independent commentators say the move, led by Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas, was justified.
     "It’s unreasonable to expect Hamas to hold ’dialogue’ when the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) is persecuting its members in the West Bank," Magdi Hussein, secretary-general of Egypt’s Islamist-leaning Labour Party, officially suspended since 2000, told IPS.
     The event scheduled for 9 November was planned after intensive talks between Egyptian officials and a dozen Palestinian factions, including both Hamas and the United States-backed Fatah movement of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Egyptian mediators had hoped the summit would lead to the adoption of an Egypt-backed "comprehensive dialogue" proposal defining the terms of a future Palestinian national-unity government.

A rift too deep

Ghassan Khatib, Jerusalem Post 11/19/2008
      The failure to convene the Palestinian reconciliation dialogue, scheduled for November 10 in Cairo, between rival Palestinian factions is an illustration of two important realities.
     First, it shows the depth of the domestic Palestinian crisis, particularly between Hamas and Fatah. Second, it illustrates the weakness of Egypt in its influence on major Arab-Arab issues.
     Egypt is still working to reschedule the talks and hasn’t given up yet. Nevertheless, the fact that Hamas felt able at the last moment to turn down the Egyptian invitation indicates that Cairo is struggling with the issue.
     One immediate reaction to Hamas’ move was to blame Syria, which, according to some analysts, wanted to exact a price for the recent US raid inside Syria. However, the failure of the talks seems to indicate other and more serious causes.
     First, Hamas is not really losing out in this ongoing crisis with Fatah and needs better incentives to reconcile. In other words, there can be successful mediation only if Egypt can find and present a win-win formula. Fatah will gain automatically from the unification of the West Bank and Gaza under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. What Hamas gains is less clear.

The limits of American racism, and the Arab exception

Ziad Asali, Daily Star 11/20/2008
      The electoral silly season is over and it is time for a serious discussion removed from partisan passions and manipulation. Racism, the 800-pound gorilla in the American living room, has shrunk and is now no bigger than a jackass. In his eloquent endorsement of Barack Obama, another African-American statesman, Colin Powell, took direct aim at racism and pulled the trigger: "It is permitted to be said such things as, ’Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is?" He went on to describe a photo of a Muslim American mother grieving at the tomb of her soldier son at Arlington Cemetery.
     Racism has just been wounded and permanently disabled. But racism in other forms is still alive and kicking. Its targets, defenseless against a larger-than-life metaphor, are Muslim and Arab-Americans. One voter famously said of Obama, the African-American candidate, "He is an Arab," while John McCain, the white candidate, reassured her that, "No, he is a decent, family man." Another voter complained, "I don’t trust him. He is a Muslim."